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Issue Date: Vol. 44, No. 2, February 2004, Posted On: 2/6/2004


Prices Unchanged For IT's 'Golden Tee' 2005 Course Software Update


Marcus Webb

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL - Incredible Technologies will keep the biggest coin-op video success story of the modern era going on Feb. 13 with an early release of an extensive annual software update for "Golden Tee Fore!" Company officials said prices on the annual course updates will remain unchanged for the third consecutive year. In addition, no changes to the monthly payment plan were made for the "2005" update. Operators will still be able to spread their payments over 12 months, which will make it easier for operators to split the update fees with locations.

The new package of course updates is called "Golden Tee 2005." It represents one of the last, if not the last, major software releases for the current "Golden Tee" platform before IT launches a major hardware upgrade this fall. Elaine Hodgson, CEO of IT, termed the "2005" package "absolutely the best value we've ever offered."

The new software package consists of a CD to update the game's hard drive, a security chip and a "2005" marquee. It takes only a few minutes to install, officials added. Features of the "2005" package include innovations designed to make the online tournament more accessible to casual players, and the addition of more prize. IT has retained the most popular revenue-generating features from last year like "Hole-n-Win" and "Closest-to-the-Pin."

Company officials stressed the importance of ordering early, which guarantees an operator a place in the first shipment scheduled for Feb. 13. The first tournament for the "2005" courses is scheduled for June, officials advised. Accordingly, early installation of the "2005" package will give tournament players more time to practice on the new courses.

To order "Golden Tee 2005" course update, operators can log onto itsgames.com and activate their secure Operator Services account and follow the prompts. Only those games that are registered and calling regularly can be updated. IT officials said that in order for operators to get the best prices, they should register and place orders for all their games at one time.

NEW TOURNEY, PRIZE STRUCTURES

Scott Morrison, vice-president of marketing and executive director of the International Tournament System, pointed out that "The most profitable nine holes of 'Golden Tee' play for operators is a nine-hole tournament selection." Morrison outlined new tournament rules and structures that are designed to bring more casual players into that profitable zone by making it "easier to enter, easier to win and easier to claim their prize."

For example, moving between divisions is easier under the new rules. This will allow skilled players to climb the ranks and compete for bigger prizes. Players who don't "cash" in their division will move to an easier division faster too, so players will always have a chance to compete and win, officials said.

Changes to the cash reward structure are designed to attract more casual players to higher-paying, competitive tournament play. On Jan. 1 a new ITS prize structure added more prizes to every skill division, making it easier to post a winning score. More than $233,000 will be awarded to over 5,200 winners every month in 2004, officials said. That's 675 more per month than in the past.

The top prize of $2,500 in the Gold Division, described by IT as the highest prize in the industry, remains the same. But the number of winning places in the Gold Division has increased to 125, giving elite players more to shoot for. The "Skip Turn" feature will return to ITS play, allowing tournament players to shoot multiple games at the same time.

Toward the end of 2004, a new, live "Tournament of Champions" will be launched, offering competition between the three divisional winners each month. The TOC is designed to stimulate repeat play by those players who have already established a winning score, and as an incentive for casual players to get involved with the ITS. Winners will play for more than  $71,000 in the live event, making it one of the most lucrative "Golden Tee" tournaments ever. TOC live events are expected to begin in December.

REMOTE PRICING

IT executives say the "2005" update gives operators something they have requested for years: the capability to set "Happy Hour" pricing or the ability to remotely adjust game pricing for a certain period of time each day. The theory is that if gameplay is slow in the afternoons, a lower price may entice some players to get off a bar stool and play.

With the "2005" update, an operator can now adjust pricing from the convenience of his office PC. All he needs to do is select his machine, enter a start time and end time, and enter the price for that time. IT officials said the procedure is "very similar to setting your VCR." There is no limit to the number of adjustments an operator can make. Remote Operator Adjustable Pricing is a free service for all online operators.

PREMIERE PARTIES REDUX

Last year, to focus the mainstream media's attention on the release of the "2004" courses, IT staged a limited number of premiere parties across the country. This year, the manufacturer is allowing any operator to conduct his own "2005" premiere party supported by an official marketing package called the Premiere Party Pack. The Party Packs may be ordered at a cost of $100 each from the IT website store when operators order "2005" new courses updates. Each pack includes a 6-ft.-long banner, 10 Premiere Player caps, 10 Premiere Player T-shirts (XL only), and 10 sets of "Golden Tee" bumper stickers. For every 50 updates ordered, IT will provide one at no charge. Quantities are limited.

NEW PLAYER FEATURES

Seven new courses are featured in the "2005" update. Balmoral Greens (League Only) is the game's first non-links style Scottish course with sheep, pot bunkers, and trees. Sapphire Springs (League Only) is a rugged course from New Zealand complete with geysers, steam vents, and rocks galore. Oak Hollow is a beautiful but tricky course set in the fall colors of Shenandoah Valley, VA. Painted Gorge is IT's first-ever course from South Africa, featuring desert mountains based on the incredibly beautiful Richtersveld National Park. Ridgewood is an Alberta, Canada course set among the beautiful and treacherous Canadian Rockies. This year's amateur courses, Blue Horizon and Eagles Peak, are much easier than their professional versions from last year. IT officials describe them as "the perfect gateway to the more challenging professional courses."

Besides seven new courses, every year IT adds new features to "Golden Tee" to keep player interest high. Jim Zielinski, IT's award-winning chief golf course architect, has added a third drivable par-4 to each nine holes, offering more eagle opportunities and more peril.

Players can elect to "take a drop" if they find themselves in a particularly difficult situation. It will cost the player a one-stroke penalty. This feature is especially valuable for new players who often find themselves in a deep sand trap or wooded area and don't have the experience to get out with a single stroke.

Hole-by-hole statistics will be more player-friendly and meaningful, officials said. IT wants players to immediately understand the significance of a shot they're about to hit. For example, prior to a shot being made, a player will be informed that "1 out of 4 players hit the green from this spot." It's anticipated that this type of information will spur more competitive play between players and heighten the excitement of the "Golden Tee" experience.

To enhance player convenience, the "Golden Tee 2005" new course update includes the capability for players to re-order lost Gold Cards directly from the operator's machines for $2.00 per card. This feature will keep more Gold Cards in circulation, promoting more league and tournament plays.

"2005 Golden Tee Fore!" is fully compatible with "Golden Tee Extra." Operators who have already installed the "Golden Tee Extra" course add-on will be giving their players nine more courses from which to choose.

HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST

The "2005" update introduces a character who acts as game hostess: Keri, the Golden Tee Girl. Keri will attract and introduce players to the fun and compelling aspects of the game. Players will see her in the attract mode and scorecard areas of the game. A live actress portraying Keri will appear at various live events and tournaments. Operators should view her as their hostess who's inviting players to their "Golden Tee" game, IT officials said. "She'll be perfect for operator-run final events where she can mingle with the players, draw media attention, and create excitement," executives stated.

As the countdown to the release of "2005" ticked away, IT executives pointed to an impressive eight-year record since the 1996 launch of the original "Golden Tee" golf game. Today an estimated 10 million players enjoy rolling a trackball on more than 30,000 online IT golf cabinets, and on many more non-connected IT golf games, operated by more than 3,000 operators in over 50,000 locations. "Golden Tee" has now spread to 15 countries and supports 100 online ITS tournaments annually, generating $4 million in game fees and helping create an estimated $750 million in annual food and beverage sales.

More information may be had by contacting Incredible Technologies Inc. at tel. (847) 870-7027 or via e-mail: info@itsgames.com.

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